IN THE CANDID CORNER: Ganja more harm than good
The discussion on the medical use of marijuana has sparked some interest within the past few weeks in Barbados.
Somehow I found myself in the heart of the issue although I have neither had the urge nor have I ever used the plant which all of a sudden we are being reminded that God made.
For the past two weeks on CITA Radio we have been riding high on this issue with a criminologist and a medical practitioner championing the cause of the herb and the social engineers, including myself and the NCPADD’s Pastor Victor Roach cautioning against Barbados jumping on the bandwagon to decriminalise or legalise this drug that has caused so much devastation in the lives thousands of young people the world over.
Let me emphasise that I respect the right of other individuals to have opposing or alternative views on societal issues. However, I think that in the final analysis our position or perspective must be informed by what is the greater good for our society.
A few things have amazed me as the debate has unfolded. One of the advocates of medical marijuana has expressed the view that we have been discriminating against marijuana while another has insisted that the licks the herb has received over the years were unwarranted.
So all of a sudden the same ganja that has wreaked so much havoc and wrecked so many lives is now being projected as a wonder drug that should be liberated from captivity and freed up for recreational and medical use even in an environment in which abuse rather than use has been a greatest challenge with this herb.
All of a sudden marijuana seems to have developed a personality of its own and is treated as if it has a soul as many individuals have emerged suddenly to champion its cause.
It is my unswerving contention that marijuana, like the devil, needs no advocate but should remain illegal while we continue to help those unfortunate individuals who continue to pin their hopes and their future on what has become one of society’s scourges.
While I am not against exploring the medicinal value of marijuana or any other drug for that matter, I am aware that the research is still in its embryonic stage and also very inconclusive. In fact, according to research done at Harvard, the most potent argument against the use of marijuana to treat medical disorders is that it may cause the acceleration or aggravation of the very disorders it is being used to treat.
The report notes that the body’s immune system is actually weakened by the regular use of ganja and it cites the possibility of dangerous pulmonary infections, including pneumonia, that decrease the body’s ability to fight off fungi, bacteria and tumour cells.
Further, the report notes that the use of marijuana as a medical therapy can and does have a very serious negative effect on patients with pre-existing immune deficits resulting from AIDS, organ transplantation, or cancer chemotherapy, the very conditions for which marijuana has most often been touted and suggested as a treatment.
The report concludes that the potential dangers presented by the medical use of marijuana may actually contribute to the dangers of the diseases which it would be used to combat. It suggests that marijuana should not be permitted as a therapy, at least until a good deal more conclusive research has been completed concerning its debilitating effects on the immune system.
In terms of mental health, brain function and memory, the research insists that health-care providers must weigh very carefully the pros and cons of adopting a therapeutic course of marijuana given its links to mental disorders including acute toxic psychosis, panic attacks, delusions, depersonalisations, hallucinations, paranoia, depression and uncontrolled aggression.
The drug has long been associated with causing psychosis and schizophrenia.
Matthew Farley is a secondary school principal, chairman of the National Forum on Education and a social commentator. Email [email protected]